Congratulations! Your long-awaited baby-bundle has arrived. Shocking right? YOU have a BABY to YOURSELF. Whoa. The first few weeks after Anouk was born I was trying to get used to it. I would look at her and think that it was temporary. Or I would sort of think that it wasn’t actually real…. I mean “she.” I hope I am not alone, but I had just gotten used to the idea of being pregnant. I was just starting to actually enjoy it. So then this due date thing comes and goes… and I’m like…maybe this thing isn’t going to happen? And then a bunch of days after that, the bowling ball in my gut dropped and turned into a baby.
Jay and I spent the first week in a daze. Half lovey-dovey, half- tired and shocked, and half like WAIT A MINUTE, KEEP HER! Obviously, she was ours, and we wanted her, but seriously, the brain goes through some serious stuff trying to consume the news that you are now indeed a parent.
The hardest part of the first week for me was trying to manage my husband’s expectations. Not with me and how I mother. Not with Anouk and how she sleeps. I needed to manage his expectations for showing baby girl off to everyone he knew. He was so excited. Or maybe feeling some pressure. Either way, he was really turning up the heat on me to take her out or let people in. I, on the other hand, was just learning how to sustain a life outside of my body. I was not really wanting to do that in front of an audience. There are these basic things you have to learn when you take a baby home. No matter how much you read about it, there is a serious learning curve. It is best to do it where you are comfortable, and with people who you really trust.
If you are about to have a baby, I REALLY WANT TO HELP YOU. I feel like a pretty normal person most days. I am neither a hyper-organized type-A personality, nor am I a “let’s have a baby in a taxi” kind of person. I read most of What to Expect When You Are Expecting and What to Expect : The First Year. I babysat kids growing up, had younger cousins and siblings, and generally liked being around them as I grew up. Point is… I think I am the kind of person who responds to life events normally. If you count yourself as one of us… read on. If you are the Type A mom, there are tons of blogs out there for you, just take your pick. If the second is you, I am shocked you are even reading a blog. So here goes… if you have questions, let me know!
These are the basics:
Learn to feed the baby: There are a bunch of facets to this, but basically figure out what you want to feed the baby.
If you are doing formula, there are rules. You have to measure properly. You should use good water. And you have to remember when you fed last.
If you are breastfeeding, there’s a lot of stuff that suddenly happens to your body. So you just got this baby out. And then you attach the baby’s mouth to you and you don’t feel like it can’t possibly be doing anything. I didn’t feel a change in my body so I was curious how my baby could be drinking anything. People would ask me if my “milk came in” and I’m like… how would I know? And they would laugh and go, “you will know! HaHaHa…” and then I knew… The milk comes in and you feel like you got breast implants. You look down and it’s like Zena warrior-princess in your shirt. Your chest has suddenly filled and gotten rock-hard. It’s time to get that baby on you and get to feeding.
The latch is tricky. I am sure that my baby never got the perfect latch. She pretty much pursed her lips just enough to get going, but it was fine. She ate well. One thing, though, is she favored one side. Your body fills and refills according to the baby’s needs. If your baby is continually on one side, your milk will be lopsided, and so will your body. Next time around, I am not going to let this happen. I know now that she had something wrong with her neck. As a first time mom, I didn’t know what to make of it, and just went with the flow….(ha) The ratios are crazy different from one side to the other. Anouk is all good, but I wish I would have known then what I know now… They say not to pump or introduce a bottle this early. You are supposed to teach your body how much your baby needs to eat. You are supposed to let your body figure out what’s going on. This is good advice. That first milk that comes in has colostrum mixed into it. That baby needs that, and bagging it and putting it in the freezer is no good. I would wait a while to start pumping… but not too long….
Learn to read the baby: There are only a few needs your baby has. Baby needs to eat. We have that covered. Baby needs to sleep. And baby needs to be clean. In that first week, the only real queue I needed to read was that she needed food. If she was tired, she would pretty much drift off. If she had a dirty diaper, she didn’t tell me, I just looked. In that first week, you are going to be checking for anything and everything every time you see your baby. She is going to wake in the night, and you are going to 1) feed her 2) check her diaper 3) put her sleep (swaddles are amazing). If she doesn’t sleep, you are going to check for more stuff. *** when Anouk wouldn’t sleep I would try to make sure she wasn’t too hot or too cold. And I would check that my hair wasn’t wrapped around any of her toes because of this post I read that a baby’s toes turned purple and that is the baby cried so much… so yes… checking toes. But all of this is pretty easy the first week.
Learn to deal with that darn bellybutton crust: So that umbilical cord was gross and thick. When they tied it off at the hospital, the dead skin that they left there was purple and black. Apparently it is really sensitive for the baby and can get stuck to the diaper if the diaper covers the bellybutton. Keep this area dry and far from the diaper. It takes a couple of weeks (ish) but it will just fall off… but sometimes it can be the source of crying. Be careful with it and don’t put anything on it.
Learn when to get sleep: For the first week I was excitable and nervous. I had a hard time sleeping and was ready to jump out of bed at every squeak my baby made. This is a good thing. When my baby slept it felt like a good opportunity to take a shower and get dressed but then baby would wake up. Then we would do our thing following the steps 1-3. Then she would sleep and I would see the dishes in the sink. I would do them and have 2 mugs left and she would wake up. Then go through steps 1-3. It went like this until I was completely drained. I have a hard time just sitting. That’s my fault. It wasn’t until about 6 weeks in that I realized that my opportunities to sleep trumped my desires to keep the house clean. Learn from my mistake, take a nap if you can. Then worry about the house once you feel refreshed. It is better for you.
That ties into the question about “when do you do you?” I felt like the primary caretaker for the baby until about 3 months after Anouk was born. She was feeding from me exclusively, so it was hard sharing responsibilities with Jay. I had a hard time leaving the house for even an hour before I would get a call from Jay saying she was crying and hungry (often she wasn’t hungry but Jay knew that often it stopper her crying so he thought she needed to feed ALL THE TIME) and I would return home with rattled nerves. I was a bucket of pure rattled nerves for about 12 weeks…holy smokes….Anyway, I didn’t get out. I didn’t see my friends, I didn’t make it to Target to decompress while buying diapers. The first week I didn’t feel like I needed to get out (a few weeks later it set in….) but some people do feel this way. And it is important to keep track of. So start thinking about your well-being as soon as you can. It will all be easier as long as you-do-you…
odds and ends****
—–you should already know about your car-seat by this time. If you don’t… figure that out. It needs to be super snug and rear-facing.
—–vitamin d drops are recommended. Get them if you are into it.
—–you are going to have an appointment with your pediatrician to make sure the baby is gaining back some weight. Don’t freak out about this. Our ped started flirting with us about giving formula to our baby by her 2nd day of life. I laugh at that, as she has been a chunk from my milk from the get-go. Don’t doubt that you are capable. You are doing great!!!!!!
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